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Revised Alternate Transportation Study ‘more palatable’ to community

By Staff | Apr 5, 2012

Paul Tritaik, “Ding” Darling Refuge manager, discusses one part of the revised Alternate Transportation Study to refuge volunteer Ken Poulson, as Joe Shoffner with the primary consulting firm Jacobs listens in, during the recent community open house.

A majority of the Sanibel residents that attended the latest open house on the Alternate Transportation Study as proposed for J.N. “Ding” Darling National Wildlife Refuge were pleased with the revisions.

“It’s more palatable,” said longtime Sanibel resident Karen Storjohann, who also called the revised proposal “a vast improvement” from earlier studies presented to the community.

The revisions were prompted by several workshops, additional brainstorming, data collection and input from the public since the Alternate Transportation Study was first introduced in May 2007. Representatives who have worked on this study were on hand at the open house to answer questions and give better details on the revisions. There was also a short slide show presentation.

“This is the sixth and final workshop before it is taken to council for endorsement,” said Joe Shoffner with Jacobs, the primary consulting firm out of Tampa.

The plan is an effort to reduce vehicle traffic along Wildlife Drive so more people can enjoy it by bicycle and trams that could run on renewable fuel. Elements of the revised plan include improving safety for wildlife crossing San-Cap Road, new connecting trails, enhanced Refuge and Bailey Tract wayfinding, expanded Refuge parking, bicycle rentals at the Refuge and enhancements to Refuge trams and a new Refuge shuttle service.

“I was pleased with the responses we received at the Alternate Transportation open house,” said Refuge Manager Paul Tritaik. “Most people supported the elements of the recommendation we proposed and thanked us for listening and incorporating public comments from the last meeting.”

Tritaik said residents asked good questions on how this alternate transportation will be implemented.

“We aim to address (those questions) in the next stage of our planning process, if approved by the City of Sanibel, Lee County and U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service,” Tritaik concluded.